Home From Dallas, Celebrating NYC

I’m home!  After a wonderful month in Dallas, rehearsing and performing my play, NYC Coyote Existential (more on coyotes in Dallas in a future post), New York’s parks seem impossibly green. As I wrote in the play, the summer green of the Northeast can seem “almost hallucinogenic, layer upon layer of vertigo-inducing green, like something out of Apocalypse Now or H.P. Lovecraft, the color alive and sentient.”

Of course, everyone here in NYC is busy complaining about the heat. But hey, after a month in Dallas with one day after another of three-digit temperatures, well, I’m just not buying all the moaning. Sure it’s hot, and yes, it’s soupy.  NYC heat is like going a few rounds in a clothes dryer with a wet towel. Hot. But Dallas at 108 degrees is like walking straight into a giant pizza oven.

The biggest difference is that here in NYC, we walk everywhere, to the subway, to the supermarket, to the hardware store, so we’re actually out in the heat. Pretty much wherever you need to go, you walk to get there.

In Dallas, not so much.

Dallas is a quintessential American car city, where many people walk only from air-conditioned car to air-conditioned home to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned store to … well, you get the idea. So as long as the air-conditioning is working, you can avoid the full impact of that mind-boggling heat. The animals, of course, seek natural cooling sources, which means, first and foremost, water. Here, a mixed group of waterbirds cools off and feeds at the White Rock Lake spillway in East Dallas.

I’ll write more about Dallas and its animals soon. Right now, though, I’m celebrating NYC in the dog days of August.

On Thursday evening, as we drank margaritas on the roof of our apartment building, a fat, phenomenally red moon – the Sturgeon Moon – rose in the east, and a red-tailed hawk landed atop the school next door. The hawk perched in the deepening shadows so long that I wondered if it was going to stay all night. When it finally flew off, its wide wings caught the light of the moon and lit up for a split second like the wings of a predatory angel.

No, I don’t have pictures. You’ll just have to take my word.

Down in the apartment, a tiny green inchworm – more like a quarter-inchworm, really – clung doughtily to the kitchen faucet.

Tiny worm

It reared its unimaginably small head and seemed to be trying to figure out where to go. I put it on a nearby jade plant, where it will probably either die or gobble up my only plant before transforming into a moth ready to gobble up my winter clothes. But how did it get onto the faucet in the first place?

And on Friday, six flights down and one block east, a small but mighty ant carried a huge, winged, red-headed carcass (identification, anyone?) up and down a fence railing, the iron so beautifully rusted that it resembled wood.

In Central Park, the water has turned completely green with algae, and the willows appear to be melting in the midsummer heat.

A fat freckled fish lurks near the shore.

And this morning in Riverside Park, the wall leaners and sitters are out in force.

A dryad with her cat sips a cold drink and gazes at the passing world.

After a while, the nymph hoists the gigantic cat onto her shoulder

and heads up the hillside.

I am so lucky to be back in Manhattan, where dryads carry giant cats through the streets and parks.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, Birds, cats, Central Park, coyotes, dogs, Domestic animals, Hawks, In the City, insects, NYC Parks, Riverside Park, Seasons, Summer, Wildlife/Natural History

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25 Comments on “Home From Dallas, Celebrating NYC”

  1. p hoey Says:

    Melissa-
    Your images of a tropical Manhattan are as terrific as the ones of a Dallas wilderness. Thank you, thank you. I especially liked the gallant inchworm in all its lost greeny glory.

  2. rfljenksy Says:

    Great post. Loved the contrast between Dallas n New York. You also exemplify why I love New York.


  3. Yes, welcome back, you have been missed. There’s no place like NYC. I lived in California for 15 years and my goal was always to come back
    I did – almost. I live just north of the city. Couldn’t aford Manhattan. I’m aiting to write “the Great American novel” or win the lottery. Whichever comes first.
    Meanwhille – enjoy and keep us posted.


    • Just north of the city sounds like a great place to be.

      As for writing the Great American novel, I wouldn’t count on it to yield the big bucks. Moby Dick has my vote, and it sank like a stone during Melville’s lifetime. Publisher sold maybe a third of the first printing. The lottery just might be a surer bet …

  4. Charlotte Says:

    What energy! Both ways—the city enlivening you, and you giving life to whatever you see, whatever you take on….Love this post!


  5. A great post! No place like home….?! Also interested in hearing about your play. Enjoyed the description on the sturgeon moon and still to come the Blue.


  6. Lovely post and welcome back. Where did your show get produced? I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Small world connections moment. I saw this post reposted on Facebook by my good friend Pam Sterling who, it appears, is a good friend of yours. How funny!


    • Thank you, Lisa. The play was produced in Dallas last month. I’ll probably write a little about it one of these days, and I’ll certainly write about coyotes in Dallas. Yes, I was lucky to have Pam Sterling working as a dramaturg on a play of mine some years ago in Cincinnati, and we became friends. She’s a great supporter. Sounds like we have quite a few points of contact!


  7. Auditioning for “NYC Coyote Existential” was one of the most enjoyable audition experiences I’ve ever had! What a wonderful, thought-provoking play. It’s funny how we always think the animals are on “our” territory, when it’s actually the other way around.


    • Linda, how nice to see you here on the blog. Your audition was delightful, and it was lovely to meet you again after so many years. Thanks for your kind words about ‘NYC Coyote Existential.’

  8. mthew Says:

    Welcome back! Looking forward to reports on Dallas hijinks. That might be a firefly of some kind in the ant’s grip.


  9. The skyline view of Dallas really took me back. So pretty. The thing I remember most about Texas summers is the deafening drone of the cicadas, the sound of which somehow just makes you feel hot. And then finding more and more of the portly insect on the ground as their summer mating frenzy draws to a close. I’ve been trying to capture footage of molting cicadas up here in New York, but no luck so far, only leftover exoskeletons – teasers of what happened there the night before!

    By the way, looks like your ant found a lightning bug to carry back to his home. I hadn’t seen them (the lightning bug) flashing for a while and wondered where they might be off to. I guess a few are still around in some form or fashion!


    • Hey there, Kelly! Yes, I ended up cat-sitting for part of my visit in a 20th floor high-rise on Turtle Creek – not how I think of Dallas living! Incredible views of downtown from the balcony. I believe Matthew at Backyard and Beyond blog ( http://matthewwills.com ) recently wrote in a post about wasps that he wasn’t seeing as many cicadas this year. Matthew, if you read this, can you comment and post a link? ANd Kelly, thanks for the lightning bug i.d.

  10. Barbara Says:

    What a marvelous post and welcome back – inspiring is what you are Melissa – loved the images of the nymph and her companion cat. It’s hot here too, but living in the country we are often blessed with cool breezes. We still watch the water depart from rivers and not be replenished, leaving banks bare, muskrat holes abandoned and the ground dry to deeply riveted cement topped with Brillo-typed scour pads instead of grass, and wish wantonly for water.

    So glad to know your month in Dallas was a success. Like Vlad – it will be wonderful to know more about your time there.


  11. Welcome back! Want to hear about Dallas, of course! :-)


    • Thanks, Vlad. I’ve been on an electronic diet while I’ve been away, so haven’t posted in over a month. I’ve managed to keep up with a few of your adventures, though – circumnavigating Long Island by kayak, indeed!


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